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Thursday, August 15, 2019
August 15, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:17 PM :: 1645 Views

Lyon Corruption: Secretary Bernhardt Transforms Interior’s Ethics Program

University of Guam Professor Arrested for Conspiring a Bid Rigging Scheme

City wants funds to hire Criminal Defense Lawyers for subpoenaed rail workers

SA: … Caldwell’s administration is seeking $300,000 to hire lawyers to represent the Honolulu rail authority and its current and former employees in connection with the federal investigation of the city’s $9.2 billion rail project.

The city corporation counsel is asking for City Council permission to hire the San Francisco law firm Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP to represent “a handful” of employees of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation who were served with federal grand jury subpoenas last month in connection with the project.

According to a resolution that will be heard by the Council’s Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee Tuesday, city lawyers do not have the expertise in federal criminal proceedings that is necessary to handle the case. Rosen Bien Galvan &Grunfeld has expertise in white-collar criminal defense and government enforcement, according to the firm’s website.

When asked if former HART Executive Director Dan Grabauskas was among those who received a subpoena, Robbins replied that he has “no direct knowledge of that.”

A spokesman for Caldwell on Tuesday refused to comment on reports that Grabauskas has been served with a subpoena, and also refused to say whether the city has made arrangements to provide Grabauskas with legal representation.

Grabauskas was the chief executive officer of the Honolulu rail authority from 2012 until he resigned in 2016, which spanned a time when the cost of the city rail project ballooned. The city had pledged in 2012 to build the 20-mile rail line for about $5.2 billion.

If Grabauskas did or does receive a subpoena, the city will be required to provide legal representation for him under his 2016 severance agreement with HART. Under that agreement, if Grabauskas is ever the subject of “a complaint, charge or lawsuit because of any alleged acts or omissions that occurred during the course and scope of your employment with HART, HART shall cooperate in your defense including providing you reasonable access to legal representation …”

HART must also cover “costs and expenses” including transportation, lodging and lost compensation resulting from any time away from work, according to the severance agreement. Grabauskas, who now has a New York-based transportation consulting business, was unavailable for comment.

HART in February was served with three federal grand jury subpoenas seeking tens of thousands of records, but it is still unclear what the focus of the federal inquiry might be.

The City Council executive matters committee will consider Resolution 19-198 to provide the funding for lawyers at 1 p.m. Tuesday, and the full Council will consider the same resolution immediately following that meeting….

read … City wants funds to hire law firm for subpoenaed rail workers

Kai Kahele Circus Trick—Falsely Claims control over Mauna Kea Access Road

KITV:  … A dispute over which state entity has jurisdiction of Mauna Kea Access road (political trick by Kai Kahele, who thinks this crap will get him elected to Congress) heated up at the State Capitol Wednesday.

The State Department of Transportation controls the road. That's the area where demonstrators opposing the building of a Thirty Meter Telescope have held ground since last month.

Lawmakers grilled the Department of Hawaiian Homelands stating, documents that shows the road is within DHHL's jurisdiction.

That would mean DOT does not have the authority to restrict access and enforce closures.

In 1995, Act 14 was passed. The land claim settlement allowed the state to acquire control over DHHL land if the department formally exchanged it.

(As always, a trick involving a no obscure law nobody has thought about in 24 years.  BTW the Hawaiian Kingdom was overthrown so you don’t have to pay your house note.)

On Wednesday, DHHL chair Bill Aila admitted to lawmakers an exchange never occurred.

"We are in the process of resolving this right now by convening the parties. The governor has made it a priority. I cannot go back in time. I can only do what is in front of me so that's where we're at," Chair Aila said ….

"Without that compliance of Act 14, the state of Hawaii cannot claim title to Maunakea Access Road.That road belongs to the beneficiaries and the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act," State Senator Kai Kahele said (trying not to snicker).

The apparent (illusory) legal loophole attracted crowds to the hearing. Students from O'ahu charter schools (OHA funded) filled the halls monitoring what was being said inside the packed hearing….

(Lying thru his teeth,) Kahele tells KITV4, if its determined DHHL still holds control the law would protect a portion of demonstrators protesting on Hawai'i Island.

"I would argue (wow) that any beneficiary that's defined by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act which basically says if you are at least 50% Hawaiian blood quantum that you have every right to be on Maunakea Access Road," said Sen. Kahele…. 

SA:  DHHL itself is not asserting ownership. Its official written statement: “Mauna Kea Access Road is a public road under the control and jurisdiction of the state Department of Transportation (DOT). It is Route 210 in the DOT’s State Highway System.”  But will its beneficiaries lay a claim?

HTH: “The secretary of the interior never signed off on any land exchange, and that’s something you’re required to do.” – Kai Kahele, lying

SA: The Attorney General’s office says operational control over the road still resides with the Department of Transportation  (Reality bites)

read … State's control over Mauna Kea Access Road could be in jeopardy

Telescope relocation talks atop Mauna Kea attracting new attention

KITV: … Astronomy advocates proposed that one of the three telescopes that are set to be decommissioned on the summit be moved to another part of the mountain.

The Hoku Kea Observatory is the only telescope strictly set aside for University of Hawaii students, and it's the only one supported by demonstrators against TMT construction.

Those fighting to protect the mountain are against its relocation arguing the move would impair an already environmentally critical area….

read … Telescope relocation talks atop Mauna Kea attracting new attention

Retired judge testifies at grand jury hearing evidence against prosecutor’s office

HNN: … A retired district court judge was called before a federal grand jury last week to testify in an ongoing probe into the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office.

Retired District Court Judge David Lo spent more than two hours inside the grand jury room before being wheeled out by an FBI agent.

The judge’s appearance is evidence that special investigators are still pursuing city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, who is on paid leave.

In 2015, Lo presided over a DUI case involving author Chris McKinney, a close friend of former Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha.

Lo dismissed the DUI apparently after Kealoha told the court that McKinney was part of a larger career criminal case her office was working on.

Kealoha gave the same reason a year earlier when she asked the court to dismiss a speeding ticket for her electrician.

McKinney is listed as co-conspirator no. 1 in a federal indictment charging Kealoha with drug crimes….

read … Retired judge testifies at grand jury hearing evidence against prosecutor’s office

Vacation rental cancellations send visitors scrambling for other accommodations

HNN: … Since a new city vacation rental law went into effect Aug. 1, thousands of illegal vacation rentals have been taken off the popular websites.

The city estimates that the number of illegal units advertising on Oahu has dropped from about 5,000 to roughly 3,000.

Bruce Fisher, owner of Hawaii Aloha Travel, says he’s been fielding calls from visitors scrambling for a place to stay, some just weeks out from their trips.

He said one woman called him crying on the phone.

“They were getting a $100/day room and the best that I could find them was $250/day," he said.

While supporters of the new law applaud the city’s enforcement and say the crackdown on the industry is long overdue, opponents fear the drop in inventory will be devastating for tourism.

With the average daily hotel room rate at $280 a night, they say Hawaii will become a destination out of reach for many.

"We're supposed to be this great family destination, but if you have a family of five or six, where are you going to stay? A regular hotel won't be big enough. I think the jury is still out as to what impact we're having and it may mean people don't come," Fisher said….

HNN:  As vacation rental cancellations mount, some say they’re not getting refunds

read … Vacation rental cancellations send visitors scrambling for other accommodations

Honolulu Adds Inspectors To Enforce Short-Term Rental Law

CB: … Six new part-time inspector positions were added to the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting this month to help investigate short-term vacation rental operators.

In a notice to the city council, DPP Acting Director Kathy Sokugawa said the workers are needed from Aug. 1 until June 30, 2020. They will be paid $24.18 per hour for 19 hours a week for a total of $132,312.96, she said….

Earlier this month, Sokugawa said the department wants to be certain they have correct address and owner information before issuing notices.

“We’re actively doing investigations to confirm the evidence so we can stand by our NOVs,” she said.

Even without violation notices, many short-term rental operators have taken action by canceling their reservations, converting their units to long-term rentals or putting them up for sale….

read … Honolulu Adds Inspectors To Enforce Short-Term Rental Law

Maybe It’s Time To Cap The City’s Spending

CB: … Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s recently approved budget for fiscal year 2020 called for a $220 million increase in county expenditures over the previous year, and the plan is to pay for it through increased property taxes and fees.

This type of budgeting is unsustainable. The City and County of Honolulu’s fiscal 2020 operating budget is 6.15% greater than it was in fiscal 2019, which by contrast was only 3.84% more than in fiscal 2018. Between 2016 and 2020, the county’s average annual increase was 2.65%.

In contrast, Honolulu’s private-sector gross domestic product increased during that same period at an average of 2.8%.

Ideally, the county would cap its spending at or below the local GDP. This is known as a smart spending cap, which a report by the International Monetary Fund correctly points out can help governments keep their expenditures under control during healthy economic times and be better prepared for potential economic downturns.

If Honolulu lawmakers had capped the county’s annual spending growth at 2% beginning with the fiscal year 2020 budget, they could have saved nearly $300 million by 2025, assuming previous revenue trends continue.….

read … Maybe It’s Time To Cap The City’s Spending

‘A Real Injustice’: Katherine Kealoha Still Stands To Collect $680K From Grandmother, Uncle

CB: … For Puana, the convictions brought a sense of vindication, but not closure.

He still owes Kealoha $658,000 from a verdict in a state civil case that the federal government says was won through fraud, deceit and manipulation. She also still has her name on the deed to his condo.

His mother, Florence Puana, turns 100 later this month yet no longer has a home.

She was forced to sell it after she says she was duped by her granddaughter into getting a reverse mortgage. Kealoha’s lawyers then garnished what little money she had left over.

At 99, Florence is living with her daughter in Kailua, sleeping on a bed in the living room.….

read … ‘A Real Injustice’: Katherine Kealoha Still Stands To Collect $680K From Grandmother, Uncle

Gay Agenda: BOE expected to adopt changes to student misconduct rules

HTH: … The state Board of Education today will consider adopting proposed amendments to Chapter 19 of the Hawaii Administrative Rules, which govern student misconduct and discipline.

The action comes nearly a year after amendments were first considered by the board….

Originally, for example, proposed amendments called to make bullying/harassment and cyberbullying for intermediate and high school students a Class A offense — the most serious category of prohibited conduct that also includes assault, fighting and possession or use of dangerous weapons. Those are currently Class B offenses for all students.

However, those offenses will be considered Class A offenses for students in grades 9-12 only, after strong feedback from middle and intermediate school administrators, according to information provided by the DOE….

Other revisions presented in February included separating the definitions of bullying and harassment, rather than having a combined definition; defining protected classes as including race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, national origin, ancestry, disability, physical appearance and characteristics, and socioeconomic status; and creating a new section that outlines the procedures for handling protected class complaints and investigations of discrimination, harassment, bullying and/or retaliation….

The policy is being updated in part to satisfy requirements of a resolution agreement reached in December 2017 between the state DOE and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, after OCR initiated a compliance review of state policies related to bullying and harassment based on race, gender and disability in 2011….

The department also is proposing to repeal Hawaii Administrative Rules Chapter 41 and replace it with a new section titled “Chapter 89 Civil Rights Policy and Complaint Procedures for Student(s) Complaints against Adult(s).”

The board also is scheduled to take action on that today…. 

MN: Hawaii school board elevates seriousness of high school bullying, harassment

SA: Board of Education passes new rules for discipline, civil rights

read … BOE expected to adopt changes to student misconduct rules

Maui Council: Biofuel Schemer Busted for Ethics Violations (again)

MN:  … The Maui County Board of Ethics has advised Maui County Council Chairwoman Kelly King to avoid discussing matters in council from which she has abstained from voting because of potential conflicts of interest and ethics issues.

The opinion, approved by the board in a vote Wednesday afternoon, centered on an ethics complaint against King, who as vice president and co-founder of Pacific Biodiesel, spoke in detail about her biofuel production business and the impact of a proposed 12 cent a gallon tax on biodiesel during council discussions in April. She abstained from voting on the tax proposal.

Her colleagues on the council chose not to tax 100 percent biodiesel but did add a 6 cent per gallon tax on biodiesel blends.

Ethics Board Chairman Matthew Macario said that a written advisory opinion to be issued to King is not a sanction or penalty. The goal of the board is to provide guidance to the council and those involved.

The complaint was brought by Kihei resident Madge Schaefer,who took issue with King over conflicts arising from the council member engaging in council discussions on the proposed biofuel fuel tax. In documents Schaefer presented to the board, she said that King did address potential lost income, lost customers and employees in the discussions.

“She lobbied for Pacific Biodiesel,” Schaefer wrote in a letter to the board.

Schaefer also referenced similar conflicts that occurred in 2017 over proposed biofuel taxes. King participated in discussions but then-budget committee Chairman Riki Hokama said she could not vote or make motions on the measure. She abstained….

2009: Abercrombie defends $3.5M earmark after being nailed by CBS

read … Ethics Board chides King over biofuel tax comments

Hawaii County Ethics Board Pretends to Be Serious

HTH: …The county Board of Ethics on Wednesday finalized an order requiring Puna council member Ashley Kierkiewicz to file an after-the-fact written disclosure of a possible conflict of interest stemming from a vote she took earlier this year.

The board, which in June found Kierkiewicz in violation of the ethics code for not disclosing a possible conflict, also issued a strong reminder to the rest of the County Council to take the ethics code … uh … seriously, yeah, that’s the word, seriously.

… The Ethics Board took on the case after a petition signed by 39 people questioned whether Kierkiewicz had a conflict of interest in introducing a bill, chairing a committee considering the bill and voting on the bill without disclosing that she was employed by a public relations company that represents officers of the landowner in the zoning application.

The council subsequently postponed action on the bill that would give a five-year extension to a light industrial zoning on the Hilo property.

After the ethics complaint was filed, Kierkiewicz announced her resignation from Hastings &Pleadwell and orally disclosed her connections to Steve Ueda, president and CEO of Matsuno Enterprises, which owns the property where another company seeks to install a potable water well and build a bottling plant.

Kierkiewicz voted for the bill in committee…

read … Pretend

Sunscreen Hypesters Take Aim at Titanium

CB: … Ultraviolet light — like the harsh sunlight at the beach — can cause mineral-based titanium dioxide sunscreen to leach metals and inorganic material into the water, according to a preliminary study published yesterday.

The new research introduces the possibility that titanium dioxide sunscreen is not as safe for ocean life and human health as previously thought.

“It’s kind of horrifying,” said Craig Downs, a researcher with Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, who reviewed the paper before its publication. “It solidifies further the concept that sunscreen pollution is a major problem in high-tourist areas.” ….

(No.  It just reinforces the belief that Haereticus Environmental Laboratory is fronting for European sunscreen makers whose products have for years been trying to win FDA approval.  See LINK.  Remember: Chemophobia is jus a marketing tool.)

read … Some ‘Reef-Safe’ Sunscreens May Not Be Safe After All

Coco Palms Overrun With Squatters (again), Fire Department May Burn It for ‘Training Exercise’

KGI: … Zundel said he is working with both the Kauai Police Department and Kauai Fire Department to get better control over the abandoned hotel.

“The drug use and criminal behavior has been a problem,” he said.

He said KPD has committed to paying closer attention to problems on the property. He and Pang said the fire department had expressed interest in burning down some structures that remain on the property for use in training exercises.

“We’re working to keep all squatters” off the property, Zundel said.

In responses to a query from TGI, KPD said: “In May of this year, in response to community concerns about possible illegal activity on the Coco Palms property, KPD reached out to the president of Stillwater Equity Partners, which is now managing the property. In June, KPD personnel met with Stillwater representatives at the Coco Palms site to discuss potential safety measures that might help to deter illegal activity, such as installing fencing, boulders and additional ‘No Trespassing’ signs.”…

Stillwater is “fully aware of the conditions” that require all building permits to be submitted for county review by Aug. 31. Ka‘aina Hull, county planning director, said that if the permits are not in order by that date, Coco Palms could lose its zoning permit, which could potentially sink the project.

The zoning consideration is important because it would permit Coco Palms to rebuild on essentially the same footprint it had when Hurricane Iniki damaged the property in 1992. Despite the passage of time, Coco Palms remains largely grandfathered from updated building code requirements. It still must meet some modern standards relating to its location in the tsunami zone.

Should that zoning status be revoked, Coco Palms would have to start the process completely anew and meet standards that would apply as if the hotel was being built from scratch today. Such requirements could possibly make recreating Coco Palms infeasible.

Hull said that if Coco Palms misses the Aug. 31 deadline, the Planning Commission could still issue an extension of the deadline, but the mood at Tuesday’s meeting appeared to make clear that the five commission members, including the chair, Sean Mahoney, are disinclined to give Coco Palms more time past the August date….

read … Burn

Leader of Waianae Meth Addict Camp in Delaware Promoting Homeless Tent Cities

WDEL: …(the word ‘meth’ never pops up in this article.  This is the closest she gets…)

While Hawaii, to outsiders, is often viewed as paradise, the state actually has the highest rate of homelessness per capita in the country. Borge found herself houseless in 2003.

"While I was working, my significant other at that time--I didn't know--was using drugs. All they had to do was sign and send the rent in, I was the worker. I finally realized after receiving a letter that we was being evicted, I couldn't understand. That's when I realized there was nothing in my account," she recalled. "I was the breadwinner."

(IQ Test: Do you believe this?)

Borge traveled to Delaware for the first time last week, to speak about her unique solution and vision to end houselessness at the third annual Millennial Summit in Wilmington. In addition to Mama, she's the self-proclaimed CEO of the village on Facebook.…

One sure-fire way to get kicked out of The Harbor:

"Rule number one: no stealing (from the other thieves or the nearby schools.  You have to go further to steal.)," she said. "If you're caught stealing from anywhere around the neighborhood or even in the schools, I built a relationship with them, and if they send me the pictures, you're immediately out. That's one thing I will not do. Where we live and what we have--that's all we have."….

But Borge doesn't have to be houseless anymore. She chooses this life.

"I took care of my dad the last five years; my dad just passed away--he left me everything, including the home," she said. "I actually can go back home to a four-bedroom house, but my job is not done yet, not until I can get every child into a home. To me, the first time I ever went to the Harbor it was like home to me, I could get rid of all my problems."…

read … Trade for McCoy?

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